I’ve been listening to audiobooks quite regularly for at least two years now, but the other day I encountered something new in my listening experience. I bought an audiobook in the usual fashion with my Audible subscription, downloaded it, hit play… then did a double take. The narrator had an Australian accent.
Now, as an Australian myself I should hardly find hearing such an accent surprising. But in the context of audiobooks, and in particular fantasy audiobooks, I do… because every audiobook I’ve listened to so far has had a British or American narrator.
I guess for me it’s a little like hearing an Aussie accent in the middle of an American film or TV show – it just feels odd (and that’s the authentic accents… the faked ones are simply cringeworthy). If it occurred in the middle of an Australian TV show I of course wouldn’t bat an eyelid, because I’m expecting it and almost all the accents are Australian. When I sit down to watch a Hollywood blockbuster, however, I’m prepped for American or British accents… maybe even Irish characters, or some cheesy German or Russian villains, but not the ones I’m used to hearing every day around me. It seems I’ve developed the same expectation of audiobooks.
That said, I quickly got used to the Australian accent, and I’m enjoying the audiobook so far. It’s a nice change-up and a familiar sound given I’m living far from home right now. I also know the original book, The Magician’s Guild, was written by Australian author Trudi Canavan, so on reflection it isn’t so odd to have local narrator Richard Aspel voicing it. Still, I wouldn’t say Aussie accents for fantasy audiobooks are the norm.
As the largest English-speaking markets and populations, it makes sense that UK and America are providing most of our fantasy audiobook narrators. Nevertheless, all this got me thinking: what audiobooks have I listened to with more unusual accents?
Only four came to mind:
- The Help: strong Southern accents (American)
- The Lies of Locke Lamora: variety of different British accents
- Daughter of the Forest: Irish accent
- Grisha and Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogies: occasional Russian accents/Russian-sounding words (faked)
However, I’m sure there are plenty of other interesting accents floating about, and I just haven’t discovered them yet… so I’d like to throw the question out there to any audiobook listeners reading this.
What interesting or unusual accents have you encountered in English audiobook narration? Have you ever heard your own local accent in an audiobook and found it strange?